Are Parents Helping Or Enabling Their Adult Children?

The primary job of a parent is to prepare their children for how the world really works. We teach and train our children from childhood the knowledge and skills necessary to become independent adults, self-sufficient and upstanding members of society.

In the real world, you don’t always get what you want.

Many young adults today have unrealistic expectations when they initially go out on their own. Many feel they are entitled to immediately live a middle-class life style (or better), because that’s what they’re used to, and because they haven’t learned that there is a difference between helping and enabling.

They weren’t born, or were very young children, during the years their parents struggled to make ends meet, pay their bills (and on time), having to eat hot dogs and beans instead of steak dinners, struggling to live within their means.

Many young adults are living at home with their parents, not out of true need, but out of what I refer to as the “Whine Factor.” They whine about the costs of housing, and how they just “couldn’t possibly live in a tiny little apartment, in a sub-standard neighborhood.” They whine about having to live on red beans and rice, ramen noodles, or macaroni and cheese, because their current salary doesn’t allow for the kinds of meals they were used to at their parents home. (Someone get me a tissue…..snif)

What happened to teaching our children how the Real World is?! That in order to have the things you want, you have to work very hard. That you have to perhaps work two jobs instead of one, all the while going to college? Many young adults, some who now have children of their own, believe their parents somehow “owe them” financial assistance, to rescue them from the burden of their own poor money-management habits! What?! Excuse ME…..?!

Let me see if I get this right. Young adults, married or living together, working full-time jobs, with or without a child to support, choose to spend their money frivolously rather than ensuring they are living within their means, and when they run into financial trouble and can’t pay their bills, the parents OWE it to their children to rescue them?! Sometimes even expected to “help” many, many times over? Huh?! Parents, listen very carefully: There is a big difference between helping and enabling adult children, and if you don’t figure it out now and put an immediate stop to the enabling, it will never end.

Maybe I’m being a little too tough. Naw, I don’t think so. I’m of the thinking that if my grown, adult children, CHOOSE to spend their money on things they “want” rather than their “needs” (like a place to live, utilities, food, etc.., like the rest of us do) and their electric gets shut off because of non-payment? Ok! So their food goes bad and they have to throw it away. Maybe, just maybe, it’s more of a “help” to allow them to experience the consequences of their own poor choices, in order to learn the valuable lessons needed to be grown, independent ADULTS.

Rescuing them from their choices and subsequent consequences, giving them money as a fix to their immediate self-made problem, allowing them to move back in with their parents, this is called “help”? I think it’s actually enabling our young adult children rather than help, preventing them from the realities of the real world. In the real world, you work long and hard for the things you need and want. That’s the only way to truly appreciate what you have, when you’ve worked your butt off for it all on your own.

A Sense of Entitlement
Children Who Refuse To Grow Up
Helping and Enabling – Is There A Difference?
Are You An Enabler? Identifying Early Warning Signs of Enabling Behaviors
How to Stop Enabling: When Our Grown Children Disappoint Us
Support Groups for Parents with Grown Adult Children Living at Home with Parents

Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children As long as we continue to keep enabling our adult children, they will continue to deny they have any problems, since most of their problems are being “solved” by those around him. Only when our adult children are forced to face the consequences of their own actions—their own choices—will it finally begin to sink in how deep their patterns of dependence and avoidance have become. And only then will we as parents be able to take the next step to real healing, forever ending our enabling habits and behaviors.

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133 Responses to “Are Parents Helping Or Enabling Their Adult Children?”

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  1. faith says:

    I believe you are making up stories about this poor woman who is not hear to defend her self.
    My son has done that to me on several occasions!
    I’m not buying your story!
    You want us to side with you when its obvious from your posts you want to humiliate your mother-in-law.

  2. Debbie says:

    I have written before in regards to my son who has borrowed over and over again. Yes, I WAS the enabler and have learned a valuable lesson from it. On a continued bright note, our son is taking care of himself and has not borrowed anything since my last entry and will not borrow because we won’t be lending again. He is making payments on his existing loan with us.

    I view Tiffany’s situation very different from my own. If her story is the truth, it is very sad that her husband was asked to quit school. I truly think they are working all the angles towards independence but they just need HELP to get there. I hope she looks toward her state assisted programs to get it or someone does rise up and HELPS them get on the right track.

    I do not see a couple asking for hand out after handout. I see a couple asking for assistance to get on the track so that they can go on and make a life for themselves. I give you credit Tiffany for wanting more in your life for you and your child. Seek out the help from programs and continue your schooling. Stand tall and believe in yourself. With the right amount of determination…you will make it!!!!


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